@withrowzone if they lose to Bama in the sec tournament that would be two losses to the team ur on the bubble with
Florida and Missouri are in.
Arkansas, LSU, Georgia, Vanderbilt, Texas A&M, South Carolina, Mississippi State, and Auburn are out (unless one of them wins the SEC Tournament).
Alabama, Kentucky, Ole Miss, and Tennessee remain on the NCAA Tournament bubble — or at least within striking distance of it — depending on the source you choose to believe. So with only the tourney in Nashville to go, we wanted to give you a look at four teams’ resumes, side-by-side, using much of the same info that appears on team sheets provided to the NCAA selection committee:
So armed with all the important data, which SEC teams are better positioned to receive NCAA at-large tourney bids?
Read on (teams listed in order according to current RPI)…
|Div. I Record||21-10||19-11||23-8||19-11|
|Winning % Rank||65||92||38||92|
|Avg. RPI Win||158||144||170||152|
|Avg. RPI Loss||54||61||92||90|
|Vs RPI 1-50||2-4||4-4||1-4||1-4|
|Vs RPI 51-100||5-5||5-5||6-2||6-3|
|Vs RPI 101-200||5-1||3-2||5-0||6-3|
|Vs RPI 201+||9-0||7-0||11-2||6-1|
* Looking at the NCAA’s example team sheet, it’s clear that a team’s conference record is not listed (though it’s easy to figure out with a little subtraction).
* A team’s record over it’s final 10-12 games is not listed. Team schedules are not arranged by date, either. The NCAA wanted teams to schedule better in November and December so it de-emphasized a team’s play at season’s end. That said, most basketball aficionados would probably have some idea of which teams are hot and which aren’t.
* All numbers on NCAA’s team sheets are rounded.
* Conference names are not listed and neither are conference RPI ranks, but the committee knows that information.
* As for the SEC’s four bubble teams, let’s take a look at these resumes line by line…
* Ole Miss clearly has the best record, best non-conference record, and best “Winning % Rank.” Unfortunately, further examination will remove some luster from those numbers.
* Tennessee ranks first in “Avg. RPI Win” having beaten — overall — better teams than its bubble rivals. Alabama ranks just behind UT and Kentucky comes in a close third. The average RPI of the teams Ole Miss has beaten is 170 and that’s creeping dangerously close to the ugly 200-line.
* Kentucky has the best “Avg. RPI Loss” number followed closely by Tennessee. Bama’s and Mississippi’s losses have come to teams whose average RPI rank is nearly 100. That’s not good.
* The NCAA teams sheets basically provide umpteen different ways of measuring the same thing — strength of schedule. You might have guessed from two previous categories that Tennessee’s overall SOS is easily the best of the SEC’s bubble hopefuls. Typically, the selection committee rewards good scheduling (not always, but typically). That should bode well for the Vols. Kentucky’s SOS isn’t bad, but Alabama is falling farther down the list. The Rebels’ 130 strength of schedule is likely a dagger. (Lucky for UM, this year’s NCAA bubble is soft.)
* In terms of non-conference strength of schedule, Tennessee once again leads the way, easily ahead of Kentucky and Alabama. Ole Miss — in what might be the most damning number on its curriculum vitae — ranks a horrific 290th among 347 Division I schools. Soft bubble or not, it’s hard to imagine UM getting into the tourney with that kind of number. If Ole Miss were Jacob Marley, that 290 would be the chain he’s forced to drag behind him.
* None of the SEC’s squads are sitting pretty in terms of RPI. Now, there are many ways to calculate RPI and some might have UK, UT, UM, and UA with slightly better or slightly worse numbers than the RPI system we use, but ranking near the 50s and 60s is dangerous. The last two years — since the field expanded to 37 at-large bids — only eight bids have gone to teams with RPI between 50 and 59 and only three at-large bids have gone to teams ranked above 60. If this were a better year for basketball, the SEC could be looking at a two-bid year (Florida and Missouri). As it stands, we believe as many as four teams could get lucky.
* Only one of the four bubble squads has a solid record against RPI top 50 teams and again that’s Tennessee. Not only are the Volunteers .500 against the best of the best, they’ve also played eight games against top 50 teams. Kentucky is next best at 2-4. This category is doubly bad for Ole Miss and Alabama as both have played just five top 50 foes and both have won just one of those matchups.
* Past selection history suggests that wins and losses in the RPI 51-100 category really don’t have much sway over who gets a bid and who doesn’t. Typically, top 50 record and losses outside the top 100 and the top 200 are the numbers to watch. That’s disappointing for Ole Miss as the Rebels have the best mark versus RPI 51-100 teams at 6-2. All four squads are .500 or better in this zone.
* Tennessee and Alabama can’t be happy with their losses to teams ranked between RPI 101 and 200. Yes, Kentucky has one such loss as well, but UT has two and UA has three. Ole Miss is 5-0 in this category, but again, this stat has more to do with hurting a resume than helping one. So at least the Rebs aren’t hurt by this one.
* Mississippi is hurt by two losses to teams outside the RPI top 200. And looking at the NCAA’s cheat sheet, those losses hurt UM in multiple ways. They show up listed under this category, obviously. But they also bring down Ole Miss’ overall strength of schedule, Ole Miss’ overall RPI, and Ole Miss’ “Avg. RPI Loss.” See what we mean when we say these sheets provide multiple ways of saying the same thing? Alabama is also hurt by a sub-200 loss. Kentucky and Tennessee don’t have losses to any teams outside the RPI top 200 and, if there’s a bonus there, it would have to go to the Vols for having played only seven sub-200 foes all year. (And that helps their RPI, their SOS, etc, etc.)
* There’s really not a huge advantage for any of the SEC bubble teams when it comes to their non-conference road games. If anything, Kentucky might take a slight hit for playing just three such games while the others each played five non-conference games away from home.
Keeping in mind that the NCAA selection panel is charged with looking at all 347 teams from across the country, an SEC-only view can be misleading. Especially in a year when the bubble is as soft as it is this year. Kentucky, Tennessee, Ole Miss and Alabama are competing against the Middle Tennessee States, Wichita States, LaSalles and Virginias of the world as much as they are each other.
But our history of accurately predicting the SEC’s bids suggests that this process is 98% math. In a given year, you can look at the RPI and SOS numbers and accurately predict about 34 or 35 out of 37 at-large bids. A couple will always leave you scratching your head and Jay Bilas barking about a better selection process, but the reality is it’s all about the math.
The math today — ahead of the SEC Tournament — tells us that Tennessee is the most likely SEC team to grab a third SEC bid, followed closely by Kentucky. However, the Vols got the worst possible seed for them (#5) and will be force to play a second-round game against the winner of South Carolina and Mississippi State, two sub-200 teams. Lose that game and UT’s tourney hopes are likely kaput (depending on what happens elsewhere).
Kentucky, on the other hand, will have a double-bye and will play the winner of the Arkansas/Vanderbilt game. A win over either will likely guarantee the Wildcats a spot on the NCAA’s dance card.
Alabama and Ole Miss are both in need of deep, deep tournament runs. Both have double-byes. Alabama will play the remaining team from Tennessee/South Carolina/Mississippi State. A head-to-head win over the Vols could definitely help the Tide’s chances, but it’s likely they’ll also need to upset Florida or beat Georgia/LSU in the next round. Bama might just need to win the whole darn tourney.
The negative numbers on Mississippi’s resume are hard to ignore. Therefore they’ll definitely need to take care of the remaining team from Missouri/Auburn/Texas A&M on Friday and then win again on Saturday.
Like the Tide, we believe the Rebels can’t feel safe until they win the tournament outright.
Once again, our view as of Monday: Tennessee is in as of today, Kentucky is probably in, and Ole Miss and Alabama are out. But that most definitely can change.